Not for Profit

Help a vital search and rescue crew save its headquarters

Written by: Andrew Merrell | Posted 21 September 2020 7:57

Help a vital search and rescue crew save its headquarters

If you see a socially distanced line of what looks like the crew of a lifeboat trekking between Gloucester and Sharpness on Saturday they are not looking for their boat - but they are in need of our support. 

While they do the hard work – attempting to walk clad in full kitcertainly not made for strolling more than a few yards let alone 16.5 miles – all we have to do it donate. 

These are just some of the volunteers who man the Severn Area Rescue Association (SARA) lifeboat which needs to raise £25,000 to refurbish its Sharpness headquarters, the Grade II listed Old Dock House, and its aging kit. 

It is the only team providing coverage of the upper reaches of the treacherous River Severn as it runs through Gloucestershire and a first port of call for all other emergency services searching for missing people anywhere in the county. 

Its work was recently highlighted in the BBC television series Reported Missing. 

This distance might not seem a lot, but these volunteers will be walking in full lifeboat PPE – a drysuit with heavy steel-toe-capped boots, full lifejacket and protective helmet. The kit weighs as much as 15kg (30lbs) and is designed for keeping lifeboat crew safe on the water, not for walking long distances. 

The aim of the Docks to Docks Challenge walk is to raise funds for urgent maintenance to the lifeboat station at Sharpness. This grade II listed building is now 180 years old and needs extensive repairs to make it watertight, warm and safe for the 35-volunteer lifeboat crew who are based there,” said Hugh Inwood, deputy station chairman, Sharpness Lifeboat Station.

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Given a fair win it is hoped family and friends will support the crew on their journey and members of the public are welcome to join in. 

As is the way of things, strict social distancing imposed to help contain the coronavirus will be observed, but that should not stop anyone getting close enough to cheer them on their way. 

The crew is due to set off from Gloucester Docks at 10am and is expected to arrive at Sharpness Old Dock (if all goes well) at about 5pm. 

There will be stops en route at Saul Junction (just after midday) and Patch Bridge near Slimbridge (near the Black Shed Café and Tudor Arms pub), where they are due to arrive about 2.30pm. 

Fundraising for SARA has traditionally been through street collections, which are currently not possible due to the restrictions imposed as a result of the pandemic. 

The target is to raise £5,000 from the challenge walk itself.

Severn Area Rescue Association (SARA) is the second-largest search-and-rescue organisation in the UK, after the RNLI. It is run entirely by its 170-plus volunteer crew and support staff. Running costs are met entirely by public donations. Last year SARA was called out more than a hundred times. 

SARA has six operational stations and provides a search and rescue service with lifeboat crews, land-search crew, cliff-rescue teams, as well as flood rescue and support – both locally and nationally.  

To donate visit justgiving/dockstodocks.